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How men can easily prevent hip or low back pain

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Get that wallet out of your back pocket!

That's what I tell almost every guy that walks through the door. Over time, sitting on a big wallet can lead to muscle imbalance and back pain. (see photo of what your spine looks like while sitting on a wallet).

It's like sitting on a phone book, but under only one buttock for years on end. Over time, this can cause a hip hike or rise on one side and not the other.

Research has shown that people with chronic low back pain typically have the pain on the side that they keep the wallet on. Sometimes the position of the wallet can even push on the sciatic nerve, creating pain down the leg.

 

Compensation through the large quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle can occur. PainScience.com explains how this muscle works:

"The quadratus lumborum — “QL” for short — is an interesting flat sheet of a muscle, spanning the space between the ribs and the hips. The QL has three major jobs, which is why it often needs work: it acts as a prime mover, a postural muscle, and a respiratory muscle. Some people with back pain also experience significant discomfort when breathing, because a cranky QL resists elevation of the rib cage, and cramps up when pulling it down firmly on exhalation. You can imagine the sense of relief people experience when this is resolved!

This large muscle attaches to the spine, ribs, and pelvis, which can even lead to a scoliosis (curvature) in the spine because it can pull the entire trunk to one side.

If there is a muscle imbalance a physical therapist can show you how to stretch and strengthen to correct the issue. The bottom line is keep the wallet out of the back pocket, especially when sitting! It’s not comfortable and you could be avoiding years of hip or low back pain.

 Nancy Whelan, PT is the owner of West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center in West Palm Beach, FLorida.

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